97th minute Zapata equaliser sends AC Milan wild
The new AC Milan’s Chinese era was heralded in with an enthralling Derby della Madonnina as Cristian Zapata side-footed home a 97th minute equaliser to hand the Rossoneri a 2-2 against Inter.
Goals from Antonio Candreva and Mauro Icardi’s first Derby goal looked to have handed Inter all three points, but Milan’s central defensive pairing of Zapata and Alessio Romagnoli sent the ‘away’ fans into rapture with two late goals.
After 31 years at the helm, Yonghong Li replaced Silvio Berlusconi as Milan president with Rossoneri Sport Luxembourg gaining full control of the Serie A side following two years of negotiations.
The result leaves Milan two points above Inter in the Serie A table, and in sixth position, as both continue to vie for a place in the Europa League next season.
There was a lightenting fast start to the match. First Mati Fernandez fired over Inter’s bar from six yards, then at the other end Icardi did the same following good work from Joao Mario on the left side.
End to end stuff ensued with Samir Handanovic called into action following a Suso long ranger, then Gerard Deulofeu struck the post from an increasingly tight angle.
Jose Sosa then made a lung bursting run from his own half, but indecision as to whether cross or have a shot saw the Milan midfielder loop the ball onto the roof of the net.
- Cristian Zapata scored AC Milan’s first goal score during additional time of a Serie A derby since Kaka’s in October 2006.
- Prior to today, Inter had not scored at HT in a Serie A derby since October 2012 (Walter Samuel).
- Inter have won none of their last four Serie A games (D2 L2) – the Nerazzurri have conceded two goals in each of these matches.
- AC Milan are unbeaten in their last four league matches (W2 D2): the Rossoneri have scored in 10 consecutive Serie A games for the first time since October 2013.
- Prior to today, the Rossoneri had found only one goal from any defenders in the current Serie A season (Paletta vs Sassuolo).
- Mauro Icardi scored his first goal against AC Milan in Serie A (after 9 games).
- Icardi (21) is only one goal far from his record in a Serie A campaign: 22 in 2014/15.
- Antonio Candreva is the first Inter player to score in two league derbies in the same season after Diego Milito in 2011/12.
- Suso has made nine assists in the current Serie A season: at least six more than any other teammate.
- Yuto Nagatomo’s previous Serie A appearance as a starter dated back to January 28th (vs Pescara).
Milan’s main creative outlet was Deulofeu and his surging run into the box saw Handanovic knocked the ball away as he tried to go round the big Slovenian.
The tempo slowed after a lightning start and Candreva rifled a long ranger over the bar, but moments later the former Lazio man got his goal.
A wonderful Roberto Gagliardini ball over the top fell perfectly into the path of Candreva who cooly volleyed past Gianluigi Donnarumma to give Inter a deserved lead.
It was almost number two seconds later as Icardi as inches away from poking home a Joao Mario low cross, however the Nerazzurri captain made amends just before the break.
Ivan Perisic provided the cross this time and Icardi made no mistakes from three yards out.
After the break, Inter could and should have gone three goals up, as Candreva fizzed a low shot wide of goal, then Icardi slid a ball across goal to an unmarked Perisic, but the Croat could only fire straight at Donnarumma from just inside the penalty area.
Inter drifted out of the game as time wore on with Milan piling on the pressure, but clear cut chances were increasingly rare as Milan struggled to breakdown resolute Inter backline.
Then with seven minutes to go Romagnoli stuck the ball into the Inter net after a fine assist from Suso. And the fairytale comeback was complete as Zapata knocked home a corner in what was the final kick of the match.